DEFEND FOR THE NEXT 49 YEARS

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STATUS OF RUSSIAN MILITARY BASES IN ABKHAZIA AND SOUTH OSSETIA TO BE LEGITIMIZED FOR THE NEXT 49 YEARS

Russian military bases in Abkhazia and South Ossetia are about to be legitimized.


The government of Russia yesterday resolved to recommend the president signing of military cooperation agreements with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Meeting with Premier Vladimir Putin last Friday, President of Abkhazia Sergei Bagapsh said the Abkhazian-Russian agreement would be signed within a week or two.

The agreements in question will include provisions defining the status of Russian military bases in the republics. Sources from the Caucasus Military District HQ say meanwhile that the 7th Military Base was already established in Abkhazia and the 4th in South Ossetia. In accordance with what Bagapsh announced on more than one occasion, the military bases would be established for 49 years without rent. (Sources in the South Ossetia presidential administration confirm it.) It is known as well that the agreements will include provisions on military personnel training and advancement of military-technical cooperation with the republics in question. Armored vehicles including T-90 tanks are already moving to the military base in Abkhazia. Sources in the Russian Defense Ministry say that the republican antiaircraft defense capacity will be enhanced by long-range antiaircraft complexes.

Each Russian military base will be manned by a contingent 3,700 servicemen strong (equivalent in terms of manpower and hardware of the “new image” motorized infantry brigades replacing former divisions in the Russian Ground Forces). Small ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet will be stationed in Ochamchira (Abkhazia), some aviation (fighters, ground-strafers, gunships) in Gudauta.

“Pondering what forces to dispatch to Abkhazia, the Russian General Staff analyzed the potential threats. With reinforcements, the Russian military base will suffice to repel a Georgian aggression,” Igor Korotchenko of the Defense Ministry Public Council commented.

“The situation in South Ossetia is different. The declared manpower of the Russian military base does not differ from the Russian military presence in South Ossetia and adjacent districts of North Ossetia before the war last August,” to quote Vyacheslav Tseluiko, an expert on the Georgian regular army from the University of Kharkov, Ukraine). “Its zone of responsibility meanwhile is considerable larger than it was. At least in theory, it offers Georgia another chance to try to solve the problem by sheer strength of arms.”

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